You will be waking up to the news of the terror attack that took place in Manchester last night. The repercussions of this may well be felt across schools in our district with young people being directly or indirectly affected.
Terrorism is not easy for anyone to comprehend or accept. Understandably, many children feel confused, upset, and anxious. Parents, teachers, and caring adults can help by listening and responding in an honest, consistent, and supportive manner. Most children,
even those exposed to trauma, are quite resilient. Like most adults, they can and do get through difficult times and go on with their lives. By creating an open environment where they feel free to ask questions, familiar adults can help them cope and reduce
the possibility of emotional difficulties.
If you do have young people affected either directly or indirectly by the events, we suggest you adopt the following strategy:
Young People directly affected (at event themselves / related to injured / deceased)
- Schools and settings should strike a balance between the maintenance of their normal routines and acknowledgement of incidents. Normality helps to anchor a child allowing them to deal with difficult events more successfully.
- The most important support resource for children and adults lies within schools and settings themselves, children’s families and the community. Specialist help e.g. bereavement counselling, should only be required in a very small number of cases where children
or adults do not respond to the facilitated natural support around them.
- Incidents should be publicly acknowledged as forcing children or adults to bottle up concerns does not help in the long run. Consideration should be given to responding to the event during the normal routine times when groups come together – assemblies,
form groups, staff briefings etc.
- Discussion of events and death should not be avoided, but remember that individual children and adults will vary in their need to talk about events that have distressed them. Opportunities for children and adults to talk about their concerns should be provided
and made OK to use. A simple question ‘Would you like to talk about ….. ?’ by those who know a child or colleague will allow the need to be assessed, and where appropriate opportunities given to talk. There are two key features here – knowing the child or
adult, and strength of the pre-existing relationship. Knowledge of the child or adult informs the assessment of their need and the strength of the relationship increases the value and effectiveness of any subsequent support. When utilised these two key features
give inherent strength to a setting, family or community’s support.
- Where directly affected, this can lead to feelings of confusion and loss of control. Giving children and young people real choices in how they respond and what support they use, can create a sense of control that allows them to deal naturally and more successfully
- Please contact the Educational Psychology team if you have any questions about this or for more advice as to how to manage the situation on 01274 439444.
Young People indirectly affected ( friends / family at event / media coverage)
Acknowledge and respond to the incident in group sessions for example assemblies / tutor time.
Allow time to discuss the incident. Use the following advice to guide your discussion:
Talking To Young People About Terrorism
- Terrorism is a violent act committed by people who want to get attention for their cause. When a terrorist strikes, it seems like the entire world is upside down and confusing. It's hard to believe what's happened or that someone would do something like
that. Acts of terrorism have been a reality in many places for years. In the United States, the worst attacks happened on September 11, 2001. In the years that followed, other attacks also happened in Spain, London, and elsewhere.
- Terrorism scares everyone because no one knows when or where it will take place. So how do you cope with it all? Here are some things you can do:
- Give yourself a fear reality check. It's normal to be worried about your safety and your family's safety. Even though your chances of being in an attack are very, very small, the images you see on TV or online make terrorist attacks seem close by.
- Share your feelings. Anger, sadness, fear, and numbness are some of the reactions you might have. Don't be embarrassed or afraid to express how you feel. Just talking and sharing your feelings with your parents, friends, teachers, and others can help them
and help you.
- Take care of yourself. Losing sleep, not eating, and worrying too much can make you sick. As much as possible, try to get enough sleep, eat right, exercise, and keep a normal routine. It may be hard to do, but it can keep you healthy and better able to
handle a tough time.
- Limit the time you spend watching the news. It's good to be informed about what's happening, but spending hours watching the news reports can make you feel more anxious and sad.
- Be respectful of others. You may have heard certain countries, religions, or political causes blamed for terrorism. But very few people believe in killing and hurting innocent people to make their point. Don't give into prejudice by blaming a whole group,
or disliking people just because of the country where they were born, the faith they practice, the way they dress, or the colour of their skin.
- Join with others. Participating in candlelight vigils, religious ceremonies, memorial services, or other events can be helpful. It's a way to show you care and that the community is sticking together during a sad time.
- Get additional support. A traumatic event can cause strong reactions, but if your feelings make it impossible for you to function and do normal stuff, like go to school, it's time to seek additional help. Turn to a parent, teacher, religious leader, or
guidance counsellor, so you can get the help you need.
- If students are unduly distressed or preoccupied by the event over a number of days you may wish to seek advice from your educational psychologist / advise the Young Person to visit their GP
If you have any specific concerns, please contact me directly on the number below.
Tel: 01274 431266
First Floor | Margaret McMillan Tower | Bradford | BD1 1NN
City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council
Department of Children's Services